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Q&A: What is the LCR Activate support programme?

The Local Growth Hub’s Activate programme supports the digital and creative industries in the Liverpool City Region. We spoke to Jonathon Clark, Business and Technology Manager for LCR Activate, to find out more

How will LCR Activate benefit the Liverpool City Region?

Our vision is to supercharge the digital and creative industries of the Liverpool City Region by helping to accelerate product development, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI).

What sort of businesses will be able to receive support through LCR Activate?

Any small to medium-sized enterprise (under 250 staff, turnover under £50,000,000 and balance sheet total under £43,000,000) located within Liverpool, Knowsley, Halton, Sefton, St Helens or Wirral that operates in the digital and creative sectors. Although we cannot financially assist larger companies, we’re still keen to hear if they have challenges in their business or supply chain for which the smaller businesses we’re working with might be able to pioneer a solution.

What support will LCR Activate be able to give businesses?

In a broad sense, we will help SMEs identify innovation challenges and opportunities in their business and allocate them to the delivery partner best suited to helping them realise these challenges and opportunities into products and solutions. For SMEs who aren’t quite at the stage of delivering a prototype for a specific product, we can provide workshops and other development opportunities to get products to the prototype stage.

For SMEs who are already working with a prototype, we can assist them with procuring a commercial solution in the AI technological sphere to augment and further develop the product, with a 50% rebate on costs. There is also an aftercare element that can signpost SMEs to further funding, commercialisation and market opportunities.

How will businesses be assessed for LCR Activate and how will support be delivered?

A project panel comprised of senior staff from the delivery partners with oversight from the LCR LEP’s Digital and Creative Sector Board will oversee the analysis of SMEs needs and demands. This panel will also allocate SMEs to partners and have oversight of the delivery of funding to SMEs procuring commercial solutions. When we examine the eligibility of SMEs and also the maturity of their technology, we use the European Commission definition and its scale of Technology Readiness Levels.

What sort of events will businesses be able to attend as part of LCR Activate?

We will be delivering networking and awareness-raising events around a variety of topics such as creating state-of-the-art apps, IoT and robotics. In addition to this there will also be providing workshops across different technologies and challenge areas and one-to-one consultancy and scoping. The Hartree Centre, who are a strategic partner to our project, will be running hackathon days for businesses to come together in a highly focussed setting to create solutions for specified real-world problems. All of this is set against the backdrop of FACT’s usual fantastic residencies, LJMU’s industry outreach work and the LEP’s leveraging of its networks to bring in opportunities around topics such as international trade and the industrial strategy.